January 13, 2009
Chicago played well for the first 18 minutes of this one, getting out and running (the team has no offensive sets to speak of, so why not?) after actually playing some capable defense for a change, but once Portland decided to pass on turning the ball over, this became a one-sided affair.
The Bulls just don't have a clue, continually firing up the lowest-yielding shot in basketball, the 20-foot jumper, while leaving guys open all over the place on the other end. Poor effort, no basketball smarts, Tyrus Thomas (pictured, right) with three points and two rebounds in over 24 minutes, poor rotations, 21-footers, poor coaching. We told you that a good coach could do something with this team, and there you go. 16-22.
11-23 shooting from behind the arc for Portland, but really, they should have done better considering the time and space they had to consider these shots. Should have been a free throw-like 20 of 23.
Travis Outlaw went off for 33, as a reserve, though you hate to see LaMarcus Aldridge continually taken out of games like this. Pushed around a bit by Thomas, he finished with just eight points and six rebounds in almost 41 minutes.
The Pacers came back to make a game of this, but they had no chance on a night when Mehmet Okur just had it from beginning to end.
Okur finished the first half with 26 points, and as it is with a lot of bigs, and especially a lot of big men who shoot from long range, it wouldn't surprise to see "finished with 32 points, after a 26-point first half" in the next day's write up. That's just how it goes when you need people to get you the ball, or when you rely on the bomb.
But Okur was driving, using his height against Jeff Foster, posting up at times, and tossing it in from all over. 43 points, on just 19 shots, with nine rebounds and only turnover. Positively Nowitzki-like.
The Pacers shot extremely well, but when you only get to the line 19 times (against the Jazz, no less) while sending your opponent to the stripe 37 times, it's hard to compete. The Pacers had their chances, as usual, but little corners that need to be cut in the second and third quarters did them in. 30 points for Danny Granger while Mike Dunleavy Jr. contributed 20 off the bench
Deron Williams looked to be himself with 23 points, 11 assists, and one turnover, while Andrei Kirilenko was all over the place. 23 points, 12 rebounds (five offensive), three assists, zero turnovers, three steals, three blocks. He shot 6-18, but I don't care. That was a ridiculous line, and he was great to watch.
Washington looked sloppy, they looked like a team that couldn't concentrate, then the Wizards looked like a team that couldn't miss, and then it looked like the far inferior team. And, in the end, that last bit created the loss. Talent will out.
The Bucks steadily came back from an Antawn Jamison/Nick Young-derived deficit in the second half, showing sound patience and good ball movement on top of its usual stout defense, registering 25 assists on 38 points. Jamison made 9-14 shots and Young really had his touch going with 30 points, but the non-Antawn/Nick Wizards shot 29.7 percent from the floor, and the AP misspelled "Jameson" at the bottom of this page.
Another fun, close one from these two, the third this season, all Boston wins.
That tends to happen when you continually find new ways to ignore Paul Pierce on the perimeter, Pierce made his 39 points happen, but he had a little help along the way. Any wrinkle in the Toronto defense seemed to end up with Pierce moving into the open space and nailing the jumper, especially during overtime.
Credit the Raptor effort, I guess. Roko Ukic had another strong game with 16 off the bench. Andrea Bargnani (23 points) stayed active, and Anthony Parker nailed a couple of tough shots. The group is missing two starters and playing the defending champs, making it to overtime. I can't complain, but I feel like I should.
Pierce was fantastic, and signs of that old and necessary Boston aggression are slowly showing up. The guys are taking more chances defensively, keeping the dribble alive a bit more, and generally taking KG's lead again.
Once again, I shouldn't complain about this entertaining game, one that saw a plucky upstart get taken to overtime by a plucky-plucky upstart in its first season, but either team could have pulled out a 12-point win in regulation had they just not screwed up so damn much.
Missed chippies, poor decisions, poor box-outs, poor rotations, bad basketball. Not the worst you've ever seen, I really like watching both these teams and Monday was no exception, but it was a little frustrating to see braincramp after braincramp.
Our favorite BC, Brook Lopez, had a great game despite more than a couple missteps, finishing with 31 and 13 in about 41 minutes. Just two turnovers, and two blocks. Vince Carter (21 points, six steals) and Keyon Dooling (14 and five assists) continue to lead with that Florida-bred magic, keeping the Nets afloat despite an off night (7-22 shooting, 17 points) from Devin Harris.
The Thunder held their own on the boards, got to the line, took in 26 points from Kevin Durant on 20 shots, and enjoyed a nice bit of production (11 points and nine assists) from Earl Watson. Looks like somebody wants to be traded for Jamaal Magloire.
Your upset of the night. And while some are looking at New York's 30 assists on 39 field goals, or the fact that they dropped 105 in a game with a pace much slower than the Knicks are used to, I have to credit New Orleans' miserable touch from the floor for the loss.
Let's not take away from New York's accomplishment. They were right there in the rotation as David West (6-20 shooting) and Peja Stojakovic (3-12) clanged away. The Knicks didn't exactly force the Hornets into horrible shots, but they weren't exactly wallflowers either. Still, this was New Orleans' game to lose, and boy, did they lose it.
On the other side, yes, New York seemed to have its spacing down all night. Lanes were everywhere, David Lee (12-17 shooting) was always finishing, and the Knicks even enjoyed a couple of clutch baskets from its worst shooters (Al Harrington and Quentin Richardson, a combined 8-26 from the floor) at the best time.
Impressive win, but not at all surprising when you consider how many David West misses didn't even restart the shot clock.